Propagating Native Plants: False Mistletoe

What a beautiful plant! As far as I can tell this is Phoradendron leucarpum, the false mistletoe native to North America. The berries are ripening right now (mid February).

The berries remind me of bubble tea tapioca pearls. You can -almost- see through them.

Phoradendron leucarpum berries

Here’s a picture of the evergreen leaves:

Phoradendron leucarpum leaves

I took this photo to show how it grows from the host tree:

Phoradendron leucarpum joined to host

Now that the last of the deciduous leaves have fallen the mistletoe bunches are easy to spot. I had always thought they liked oak trees and evergreens but the ones I saw were growing on deciduous trees such as hackberries!

I happen to have a hackberry. Who doesn’t? Extra bonus: false mistletoe is a host plant for the Purple Hairstreak butterfly.

When to sow: Use fresh seed from ripe fruit.

Special treatment: Squish the berries under the branches of the host plant.

Fresh or dried seed: Fresh.

Planting depth: Branch surfaces.

Preferred temperature for germination: Unknown to me.

Days to germination: Unknown to me.

Vegetative propagation: No.

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27 thoughts on “Propagating Native Plants: False Mistletoe

  1. We have mistletoe growing in some of our trees. I was thrilled when I first saw it. I mean, mistletoe promotes romance! Unfortunately, the mistletoe is so high and inaccessible I have never been able to obtain any. But no problem for the birds!

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    1. haha I know right. But it is a keystone species for this area. Someone found that where mistletoe grows there tends to be a greater diversity of wildlife species. Plus it is so lovely. I can definitely picture it hanging from my hackberry branches.

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    1. I’ve really been having fun learning more about propagating native plants. I’m finding it really rewarding to collect and grow truly indigenous plants.

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  2. Those berries are so evocative of pearls…something about the way they simultaneously hold and yet transmit light. Beautiful.

    I hadn’t known about the hairstreak butterfly support but always appreciated that mistletoe (I didn’t know it was “false” – is there a “true” mistletoe as well?) seemed happy getting a toehold on hackberries. Because, yup, I have hackberries too. And sure, anything that might slow them down even the slightest bit in combination with berries and bird and butterfly love is A-OK in my book. Plus, KISSES!

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    1. Pearls! That’s a prettier idea than tapioca. haha. It is ‘false’ because this ain’t the mistletoe the druids used in the UK. Kissing under the mistletoe for Valentines just might be a new thing around here now.

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  3. Who doesn’ t have a hackberry? I don’ t even know what a hackberry is. The case mistletoe doesn’ t grow here but it looks lovely with such shiny white berries.

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    1. Sorry for the local joke. Celtis occidentalis is considered a weed tree around here. It grows quickly and weakly so branches are always falling. It seems to host every insect in sight. It also gets covered in berries that birds like so it tends to get dispersed all over the place.

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  4. Our native Mistletoe (Viscum album) ripens at the end of December, there is a wood near here with tall Lime trees and about 40 trees are smothered high up in Mistletoe, its quite a sight. Presumably birds have helped with propagation there! I wonder if ours is a food source for Butterflies over here.

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    1. I would be surprised if it isn’t. Very few plants evolve without some sort of companions. Of course, some of those companions could have gone extinct …

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    1. A gardening blog! You haven’t been reading me for long or you’d know how terrible I am at gardening =D Thanks, you’ve made my day.
      The more I learn about this plant the more excited I am getting at including it in my space. What wildlife gardener would overlook a keystone species?

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  5. Beautiful berries. I remember reading just recently, though I can’t remember where, that the Purple Hair Streak’s host plant was the mistletoe–it’s a gorgeous butterfly. Nice.

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    1. The berries really were beautiful. This is an example of a plant that has multiple functions. It could limit the hackberry in general plus the leaves feed butterflies while the fruits feed the birds. What is not to like? Oh, and it is ok with shady conditions ….

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